Optically thick winds: How is the mass flux determined?

S. Ami Glasner, F. X. Timmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Expanding envelopes of compact objects that possess a burning region at the base of the envelope are commonly observed and modeled. In many cases, such as the late stages of classical nova, the expanding envelope develops into a stationary, optically thick wind of matter escaping from the star. In the usual theoretical formalism there is one more unknown than equations, with closure being obtained by the requirement that the solution pass through the singularity at the sonic point. It is shown analytically that the mass flux, which is one of the unknowns, is almost completely determined by the physical conditions near the base of the envelope just above the burning zone. The sonic point closure relation determines whether the expanding solution can develop into a wind solution. For a given core mass the range of possible wind solutions is an outcome of the great sensitivity of the mass flux to the inner luminosity. Solutions determined through numerical integrations are shown to lie entirely within the narrow analytic boundaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-414
Number of pages4
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 20 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Novae, cataclysmic variables
  • Stars: mass loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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